- Meg Lanning admitted she felt relief after Australia beat New Zealand to progress to the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup semi-finals
- The hosts set the White Ferns a chase of 156 and managed to keep them at bay despite the loss of Ellyse Perry through injury
- Lanning is confident her squad has the quality and depth needed to beat South Africa or England in Sydney
Beth Mooney’s brilliant half-century and three wickets apiece for Georgia Wareham and Megan Schutt helped the hosts fend off the White Ferns in their must-win clash in Melbourne, sealing their spot in the last-four for the seventh edition in a row.
The Australians, who won all their group games since the opening defeat to India, never wanted to do it the do-or-die way.
But captain Lanning is confident the early reality check has helped her side find their best form at the right time, with South Africa and England looming as potential last-four opponents.
“Today’s performance was our best of the tournament so far,” said Lanning. “I don’t think we could be better placed for the semi-finals.
“It’s certainly nice to have a win against a really good team and I thought it was a really good performance.
“We started well and were able to calm the situation down early with Beth Mooney playing a really good hand.
“We were under the pump with the ball a little bit but I think we dealt with it extremely well to get over the line against a really good New Zealand team.
“Our first challenge for this tournament to get out of the group stage and to have done that now is certainly a nice feeling.”
Despite winning by four runs, the hosts were dealt a blow in Melbourne when Ellyse Perry, who had to pass a fitness test to play, was forced off after sustaining a hamstring injury.
The star all-rounder is yet to miss a Women’s T20 World Cup match since the tournament began in 2009 but question marks now linger over the likelihood of her keeping that record intact.
Her absence isn’t something that worries Lanning, however, the skipper instead confident she has a squad capable of stepping up to the mark.
“Ellyse has been a massive part of our squad and team for a long time and you can’t replace her,” added Lanning. “But we’ve got 15 players here who can do a job and you need a squad to win a World Cup.
“You can’t rely on one or two players and use the same 11 players every game.
“We’re going to have to use the depth we’ve got – that’s just the reality of elite sport, unfortunately.
“We’ll have to wait and see what happens, but I have full confidence that whoever comes in can play a role.”
For New Zealand, the loss marks another heart-breaking World Cup exit, the White Ferns now missing out on making the semi-finals of an ICC tournament for a third successive time.
It came down to the finest of margins with them coming four runs short of the highest chase of the tournament at the Junction Oval with Katey Martin’s (37 not out) late striking not enough to turn the game around.
While disappointed she couldn’t steer her side to success, skipper Sophie Devine says the defeat is far from agonising and is convinced her side are closer than ever to returning to the top.
“I thought it was a fantastic chase at the end there to get so close,” she said.
“It would have been a masterstroke at the end if we could have won, but I think we let them off the hook at the end of the innings.
“Australia are a good side because they strangle teams. It’s about how you can get around that and break it up.
“The thing about them is it doesn’t matter who on the day, but someone always seems to step up for them.
“Certainly skill-wise we’re there. Everyone knows we’re a really talented side and we want to keep pushing and prove we deserve to be up there. We’re actually really close.”